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Palmer Ranch is a massive real estate development in Sarasota County, Florida between the cities of Sarasota and Osprey. Located very roughly by Clark Road, Tamiami Trail and Interstate 75, it was part of the original 80,000 acres (320 km²) of Florida land purchased by Bertha Honoré Palmer, wife of Chicago department store tycoon Potter Palmer, best known for the famed Palmer House hotel in Chicago. It is one of many former Florida cattle ranches developed into planned communities; the other most notable ranch conversion in the Sarasota Bradenton area is Lakewood Ranch.
Bertha Palmer, known as Mrs. Potter Palmer, came to Sarasota in 1910, and made a property on Little Sarasota Bay called Spanish Point her winter home. A progressive woman, she improved agricultural methods and added lavish gardens and buildings; today that land is the Historic Spanish Point garden and historic site. While the house The Oaks is gone, outbuildings and landscape remain, including remnants of designs by Achilles Duchene, after whom the Duchene Garden is named. Other former Palmer family holdings now open to the public include the Myakka River State Park and an expansion of Oscar Scherer State Park.
After her death, Bertha Palmer gave the land to her sons Potter Jr. and Honore, who continued developing the property as a ranch. In addition, they make the Palmer name as associated with Sarasota as Chicago with the establishment of the Palmer Bank. Today, much of the ranch is developed into subdivisions, shopping centers and a mall, though parts of the ranch still have cattle operations.
- Bertha Palmer in Sarasota History
- NYTimes Myakka Park travel story
- Timeline of Myakka River from Sarasota Herald-Tribune
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